Pulehu Steak Tip Skewers with Maui Onion Finadene Sauce


Pulehu is Hawaiian for "to cook over hot coals." In this grilled steak tip skewer recipe from Hawaiian chef Sheldon Simeon, a punchy, bright basting sauce of sake, soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry vinegar, garlic, ginger, and scallions flavors the beef. Pulverized toasted barley is the secret ingredient in the sauce—it thickens the sauce and helps it coat the beef so it gets crispy when grilled. Simeon layers on even more flavor into finadene, a soy-based sauce, to serve with the skewers, with the addition of sweet Maui onions and Agrumato lemon olive oil, a citrusy finishing oil produced by pressing whole lemons and olives. If Maui onions aren't available, Vidalia or other sweet, crunchy onions can be used. Hawaiian chiles are hard to find (if you're not in Hawaii); on the mainland, look for Fresno chiles, or for more heat, try a Thai bird chile.

Pulehu Steak Tips with Maui Onion Finadene Sauce
Photo: Victor Protasio
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins



  • 1 small sweet onion, such as Maui, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 3 Hawaiian chiles or red Fresno chiles, seeded and finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon Agrumato lemon olive oil or extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic


  • 1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley

  • 1 cup mirin

  • 1/2 cup sake

  • 1 cup soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed

  • 6 scallions, roughly chopped

  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns

  • 3 pounds hanger steak, cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


Make the finadene

  1. Stir together all ingredients a small bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Make the steak tips

  1. While finadene stands, grind barley to a fine powder in a spice grinder. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high; add barley, and cook, tossing constantly, until golden brown and toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool in skillet 2 minutes. Return skillet to medium-high; whisk in mirin and sake until smooth. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry vinegar, garlic, scallions, ginger, and peppercorns; cook, stirring often, 15 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Set sauce aside for basting.

  2. Sprinkle steak pieces with salt and pepper. Thread steak pieces onto 8 (12-inch) skewers. Brush with basting sauce; let stand at room temperature while grill preheats.

  3. Open bottom vent of a charcoal grill completely. Light charcoal chimney starter filled with briquettes. When briquettes are covered with gray ash, pour onto bottom grate of grill. Adjust vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 550°F to 600°F. (If using a gas grill, preheat to very high [500°F and up].) Place skewers on oiled grates. Grill, uncovered, flipping and basting with sauce until steak pieces are charred in some spots and a meat thermometer registers 125°F, about 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare.

  4. Transfer skewers to a cutting board, and let steak rest 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with finadene.

Suggested Pairing

Vibrant, raspberry-rich Grenache.

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